52 Ancestors – #13 Christian Karl Roleke

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I have decided to accept the challenge of Amy Johnson Crow over at No Story Too Small blog. Amy challenges us: 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks. I think this is an excellent challenge as I tend to focus on my brick walls, and this will force me to fan out in my tree and focus on other ancestors.

This is week 13 and my 13th post in this challenge.  Christian Karl Roleke, is my 3rd great-grandfather.  I guess I’m kind of cheating this week.  I picked an ancestor that I really haven’t researched and that I know very little about it.  I did so because I have been out-of-town all week, and didn’t really have the time this week to devote to a lengthy blog post.

Karl, which is the name I believe he went by, was mentioned in the article below because his son and my 2nd great-grandfather Wilhelm Roleke, was the mayor of Bethany, Missouri for 32 years and because of this I have found many articles about him.  This one just happened to mention his mother and father.

Karl Roleke in History of NW Missouri

Karl Roleke in History of NW Missouri

It basically states that his family was of the official class [whatever that means], he was born in the province of Hanover, Germany, he entered the army [what army??] at the age of 16 and when he met the requirements of his military service he was appointed to a position in civil service and later became a revenue officer [whatever that is]. He retired on a pension twenty years before his death in July of 1914. He was 85 years old when he died.

That small simple paragraph really gives me some good leads and quite a bit of information that I am very lucky to have found. However, it also shows me how little I understand German history, and I will really have to step up my skill set before I start trying to research German records. I’m sure the main barrier will be language and trying to decipher documents while researching. Also, what is the official class and what were the duties of a revenue officer?

I guess also my biggest fear is what happened to the Roleke’s that didn’t migrate to America before WWII? What was their role in WWII and do I want to know? I’m almost afraid to know, but I also realize whatever it is, it’s my history and I must pursue it and find out what happened to my family no matter my hesitation.

This is how I descend from Karl Roleke:

Karl Roleke to Me

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3 comments on “52 Ancestors – #13 Christian Karl Roleke

  1. Welcome home, Susie! I hope you had a great visit & search.

    I found the story of your Roleke ancestors interesting. A quick search turned this up about the Official Class System. I can send a link to a Google book.

    Ordnung…the official German class system had 3 major classes:
    2-Bürgertum (professional & commercial middle class)
    3-lower class (workers & farmers)

    It was officially disbanded with the emperior’s abdication in 1918, but its influence can still be found in German culture today; the most obvious in the school system. During the first four years, all German children attend the basic school. After leaving that, they go to 1 of 3 types of schools:
    1-Gymnasium-most academic; meant to prepare its pupils for entry into universities
    2-Realschule-prepares them for administrative & middle-management positions
    3-Hauptschule-provides a more vocational education for those who will later enter Germany’s extensive apprenticeship program.

    Tradionally, only children from upper & middle classes attended the Gymnasium. Children from the working class were expected to attend the Hauptschule & then apprentice to one of the trades.

    You wrote that Karl Roleke entered the army at age 16…that would’ve been around 1813… The Napoleonic Wars were 1803-1815. France had taken control of the Rhineland about 1807 and used . Napoleon’s failed attempt to invade Russia was in 1812 and a lot of his German soldiers were killed. Prussia, Russia and then Austria allied to defeat him. When he lost the Battle of Leipzia in late 1813, his empire started to collapse. One by one, the German states began to oppose him.

    France used conscription to build its armies. Karl might have been in Napoleon’s army, or he was able to join opposing forces.

    • Thank you Diana!! You always have so much information, this gives me a good start on looking him up.

  2. […] – “Christian Karl Roleke” by Susie Reynolds on Our Families and Their Untold […]

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